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Finding extra time for learning

By JAMES COAKES Published 7th May 2015
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There never seems to be enough time in the day to learn and work on personal development. One of Steven Covey's 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is 'Sharpen The Saw', which means make sure that you have enough time to learn new skills and keep on top of your industry's latest news. That's all very well, but when can you find time in an increasingly busy daily schedule?

Various studies have shown that people generally are getting too much sleep. If you sleep for more than 8 hours each night it's possible that excess sleep is having the opposite effect and, actually, making you more tired. One study, in the US, found that oversleeping (9 - 10 hours a night) was associated with a range of illnesses and disorders, including diabetes, obesity and regular headaches. The Nurses' Health Study found that 11 hours of sleep each night lead to an increase in the risk of coronary heart disease of 38%.

The optimum amount of sleep is often quoted as 7 - 8 hours but it does depend on the individual. Many get by on just five hours a night and the amount of sleep that an individual needs often decreases as they age. If you are going to reduce your sleeping then other factors need to be considered, for example making the times that you go to sleep and wake a habit and not drinking during the week.

A number of high profile business people have declared themselves early risers in recent interviews. Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks, rises at 4.30 a.m. and calls executives in other time zones. Robert Iger, CEO of Disney, also rises at 4.30 to read the papers, surf the net and work out. Tim Cook, the (relatively) new CEO of Apple rises even earlier at 3.45 a.m. Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-director of the Serpentine Galleries, rises at 5 a.m. to read, exercise and speak with colleagues. He explains; 'By the time I reach the office I've already had an entire morning of experiences' and refers to it as 'a day within a day'.

Reducing sleep and rising earlier is, without a doubt, a significant life change and it needs to be carefully managed. The best strategy is to approach it gradually, for example rising half an hour earlier for a week to see how that affects you and either moving on from there or sticking with that extra half hour if you think that's enough. You would still gain two and a half hours in a working week which is enough for some considerable personal development.

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